Apple Search Ads has added a new reporting feature that will make it even easier for developers to track their app’s performance for a wide array of metrics. In addition to the new reporting tools, it’s also expanding its availability to nine more territories, allowing developers to reach more users around the world with their Search Ads campaigns.
Acquiring mobile users is critical for new apps – as new apps need enough data to see how users are using the app and optimize in-app items, loops, gamification elements and notifications.
For established apps, acquiring users helps app store rankings which results in more downloads.
From games to shopping apps and everything in between – we all want more users for our mobile apps.
Here are five simple and cost-effective ways you can increase your app downloads:
Localizing your app (making it relevant to varying locales) is a great way to help increase downloads.
There are several ways you can localize your app, increase downloads, and acquire users worldwide.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to do just that is to make the app listing accessible in a variety of languages.
You can do so by translating your app title, keywords and description into a variety of popular languages such as Simplified Chinese, Spanish, French and German.
Combine this with:
– using locally-relevant keywords in your description
– declaring required permissions
Localization of an app listing is one of the proven ways for many mobile apps to increase app downloads and improve their mobile user acquisition in non-English speaking countries.
Free for a day app promotion sites
With 1.5 million apps available in both Apple and Google app stores, any opportunity to stand out can pay huge dividends.
News flash – consumers love free stuff.
That could be paid apps that are free for a day, or even a free in-app item like a special virtual good or removing ads.
Capitalize on this opportunity and spike app installs by promoting to your list of customers and prospects, or partner with one of the many app promotion sites.
Managing your own promotion is as simple as changing the cost of an in-app item or your app and sending an email. Bonus points if you use deep links to send clicks to an in-app landing page.
The giveaways will boost your download numbers and organic app store rankings, and is likely to work well in conjunction with the other tips in this article to help make your app more popular in the long run.
A/B test your creatives (Icon and Screenshots)
App users want to see what it is they are installing – even if free – and rightly so.
To ensure that the app listing creative elements of your app are as strong as the app itself, and communicate the correct message (features/benefits), consider a focus group and running A/B tests on a portion of live traffic.
Simply – your app icon is the first thing a user sees, the more appeal it has, the higher the likelihood that it will be download.
A/B testing allows you to decide which designs resonate best with users and aid in your mobile user acquisition.
Guest post/Partner with niche influencers
While not every blog will write articles about your app that convert into app downloads, a guest spot on a relevant blog or other social channel can provide a spike in users without any spend (other than time on outreach and content).
With costs per install exceeding $2, and relevant coverage providing a long-term asset, activating a influencer network is a growing component of app marketing.
Seek out niche influential blogs or social channels (think Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest) relevant to your app and offer to write a post on how your app solves a problem for their audience, or whatever angle makes sense for your app and the channel.
A common strategy for building a social channel is partnering with others with similar audiences and audience sizes to share and cross-promote content – resulting in a building of both audiences.
It may make sense to develop your own channel when reaching out to relevant influencers so that you are offering content that is interesting to their audience, while building your own direct path to communicating to those via a larger audience on your own channels.
Run a Cost-Per-Install (CPI) Campaign
Of course we know buying installs is always an option, but the real goal is the acquire mobile users that have a high lifetime value (LTV) compared to the cost per install.
Goal = LTV > CPI.
Simple in theory, harder to achieve.
By combining an ongoing investment in app store optimization with a CPI campaign, the organic lift as a result of the ASO can essentially subsidize the cost of paid installs.
Not only do mobile users acquired via organic app store search produce higher LTVs, but rankings achieved organically provide a long-term advantage over apps that burst their way to a short-lived top.
Dave Bell goes into more in this guest post for Venture Beat.
To get your CPI campaign going, consider running a campaign on Facebook and other networks that provide tools for advanced targeting by user.
All 5 of these strategies for acquiring new mobile users starts with a solid foundation, an optimized app store listing for better visibility and maximum conversion.
In 2015 China surpassed the US in the number of iPhones sold and in app downloads.
Japan generated more revenue on Google Play than the US or the UK.
For 2015, which of the below countries had more downloads on Google Play than the UK, Canada and Germany?:
Answer: All of them!
There’s users and revenue in them there hills.
App store localization
While localizing your entire app may make sense, there is a way to test the market before committing to a full localization – localizing only your app’s store listing metadata.
Even before localizing your app screenshots or icon, you can get an idea of the potential ROI of a complete app localization by starting with localizing and optimizing the keywords and phrases your app targets in the app metadata.
Since the descriptions and app title in Google Play and the app name and keywords field in Apple are built off of the phrases you are targeting – we’ll focus why and how to localize app keywords in this post.
iOS App Store localization
For an iOS app listing we recommend an app name format of
- “App name – feature #1, feature #2” or
- “App name – keyword rich tagline”
When localizing, you may decide to keep the app name consistent but change the features or tagline that follows the app name using words the localized target market is using to find apps like yours.
OK – where do I start?
The Apple App Store distributes to over 150 countries in over 40 languages.
Looking at the downloads and app store revenue generated by each country can help us focus our efforts.
China, US, Japan, Australia, UK, Germany, Canada and France are the largest iOS app stores by volume and revenue. South Koreans and Asian app consumers in general tend to spend more per user than their western counterparts, especially on games – so adding South Korea to this list may make sense as well.
China has become too big to ignore. The US, UK, Canada and Australia are all English – which makes the localization effort a bit easier. French is represented in Canada and France.
With a little effort you can localize and optimize for 5 huge app stores (countries) in addition to the US.
Google Play Store localization
For the app title in Google Play, we recommend a format of:
“App name – Feature#1”
Secondary features would then be used in the short description, and all target terms in the full description.
Hiring a writer to write a description using your targeted keywords and phrases for the full description is a much better approach than translating your English description.
Many services even provide a translation level that translates the meaning of the original and not the literal.
Spend a moment translating American idioms into Spanish to see how easy it is to communicate the wrong thing when translating literally.
The largest Google Play stores by revenue are the US, Japan, South Korea and Germany. Brazil, Russia, India and Mexico drive significant downloads.
Localization best practices
Avoid a straight translation from Google Translate.
The process of localizing an app listing for another country looks a lot like your ASO process in English.
- How are users looking for your app or apps with similar or related features?
- What keywords and phrases do Apple and Google see as relevant?
- What are your app’s most important or distinguishing features?
- What words and phrases work together to provide the largest, relevant app store search coverage?
The same questions should be answered for each app store you are targeting.
Aim for the meaning vs the literal translation
We have talked quite a bit on this blog about the difference between how users search the web and how users search the app stores.
Just like how it is not a good idea to use web search data for determining relevant app store search terms or traffic, building a list of target keywords and phrases in a new language should not just be a translation of your existing keywords field.
When you spend any significant amount of time in a foreign country – the amount of communication using colloquialisms or idioms becomes hilariously apparent.
This is as true for Americans visiting England as it is when visiting Colombia or Russia. Even San Diegans and folks from Montgomery, Alabama have completely different ways of communicating ideas.
Consider that the Apple App Store has 4 types of English (US, Canada, UK, Australia).
The approach of hiring a writer to translate your descriptions using your localized app keywords will cost a bit more but the alternative – hiring a writer to provide a literal translation – is probably not worth doing at all.
As with much of optimization – measure what works, improve what doesn’t and increase the investment in localization as the ROI becomes more clear.
Make no mistake, the mobile explosion and migration from the web to apps is not just an American or even Western phenomenon. In fact, how fast and how broad populations across the globe are adopting mobile is a big part of the story.
Japan, South Korea and of course a whole host of Spanish speaking countries represent huge user bases as well.
A study by the Harvard Business Review reported that 72% of respondents said they are more likely to buy a product in their own language.
If your app is only in English, mobile app localization may provide an avenue for 5-100% growth or more.
Revenue per user and downloads overall vary per country/language by app and app type, but the stages of localization are similar across app types.
Stages of Localization
Depending on expected return or budget, publishers may approach app localization in stages, both in languages localized for and what in the app is localized.
Publishers should start with the app store listing text and keywords, then move to the graphics (screenshots and video), then in-app text, in-app purchases and in-app controls like back buttons.
Localizing the app text, items for purchase and controls is a massive over-simplification that groups design and UI in with text and back buttons as if it were just simple translation.
Localization vs Translation
Let’s address this here:
- Translation is essentially changing text into another language. (defining “translation” w/o using “translate” is not easy!)
- Localization is language translation plus locally relevant graphics, units of measurement, colors, social networks etc…
China does not use Facebook, Russia has VK instead of Facebook. Apps that require or offer a Facebook login would be out of place in China and Russia.
Similarly, a photo-taking app that used screenshots of two Americans taking photos may not resonate as well with a Chinese consumer as screenshots showing Chinese users.
Localized App Store Listing – Text Only
Google Play and Apple both support creating multiple app store listings by language.
A quick recap of app store listing best practices reminds us that for Google Play, and app store listing consists of an app title, short and long description and graphic elements. For Apple, we have an app name, description and a hidden field for keywords.
The name/title, descriptions and keywords are extremely important for app store optimization – specifically visibility in the app stores and conversion of viewers to users – we are not going to just translate our fields into another language. The current English app listing is the result of research on user behavior and search phrases in English in the US.
The best way to create a localized and optimized app store listing is to go through the optimization process for each targeted location.
If you want to start smaller and just translate the current app store listing, avoid using Google Translate as the default translation tool.
There are many reasonable options where translating an app store listing into 10 languages would run around $1,000.
Mobile app publishers with a serious focus on entering a new market with their apps should perform a complete ASO analysis for the targeted country.
App Listing Creatives
App creatives like screenshots and a video have a huge impact on converting app store views into installs and users. If the text of an app store listing (name, description, keywords) drives visibility, the creative elements drive conversion.
Translating the text on any creatives is the place to start, but publishers should consider changing the actual images used if a more local example is available.
For example, a mapping app could show a screenshot of a user navigating a map of Paris in France, and of Shanghai for China.
Using the app store optimization research from the previous stage, you will know which features and functions are in highest demand and of most interest in your targeted country. Highlight these features in screenshots just like you would lead with you most sought after features in screenshots for your domestic audience.
Which Countries to Localize For
With an English app or game, publishers can cover some big spending countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and of course the US.
If your app is already in English, you have roughly 35% of the app market covered.
Where you go from there depends largely on where current app installs are coming, the LTV of those users, and where competitive apps are having success.
If your app is getting a lot of downloads in Germany, for example, this may be a good place to start your app localization efforts.
Another approach is to see where your competition is having success. One place to start is by performing competitive ASO research. Do any of your biggest competitors in the app store have localized app store listings? If so, which countries and how do they rank in those locations?
With tools like this from Apptopia, publishers can see both the number of installs and the estimated revenue per user by country for competitive apps.
The top 5 recommended languages for localization not considering your app’s type, performance and competitors are English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean and Spanish. German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian round out top 9.
App Localization is important because mobile is a global phenomenon – with smartphones surpassing PCs and expected to exceed 2 billion devices in 2015.
Consider for 2014:
- App revenue grew 70% in the top 3 Countries (US, Japan, South Korea)
- Japan held the #1 spot globally in Google Play revenues, while US was #1 in downloads
- China and Japan are #2 and #3 for Apple/iOS downloads ahead of the UK, Canada and Australia
For many apps, localizing a mobile app for new country makes a lot of sense.
Both Apple and Google make “entering” a new country as simple as clicking a button.
You want to create a new app listing for Japan? Just submit a new app name, keywords etc.. and they handle pricing, currency exchange etc..
Add in the power of Google Translate and it becomes very easy to think that just translating existing metadata for marketing purposes is OK.
You throw in your existing target keywords, app name, description and screenshot text into Google Translate and slap the output into your new country’s app listing and consider it done.
Bam – next.
Let’s call that translation. And it can be not worth even the small amount of time, but it can lead to embarrassing or worse results.
At the other end of the spectrum, a complete localization effort would generally include adapting the in-app content, text, colors, buttons and images to the appropriate meaning in the new country.
Even for “simple” apps, a complete localization can be a large undertaking in both time and expense.
App Marketing Localization
Before an investment in a complete mobile app localization effort, start with localizing the app name, keywords and screenshot fields available for each new targeted country.
So why not just throw current keyword field into Google Translate and call it a day?
The goal is to build a list of target keywords and phrases based on how users search in their country. There are several reasons why just translating English words to another language and assuming “close enough” can be worthless.
Google Translate often translates words and not meanings
If translation is taking the English “I am hungry” and changing it to the Spanish “Estoy hambriento” – fine. But Spanish speakers don’t say “Estoy hambriento”, they say “Tengo Hambre” – or “I have hunger”. This is not to disparage Google’s translation tool, but more to highlight what may not be apparent if you only speak one language (looking at you English speaking Americans)…
Translating English words to Spanish does not convey the meaning in the same way as understanding how Spanish is spoken.
People across languages speak in idioms that are not easy to translate
- An arm and a leg – it is expensive
- Cut corners – to take shortcuts, find a cheaper or easier way to do something,
- Bob’s your uncle – typically following a set of simple instructions – “and there you have it”
- Hairy at the heel – someone is dangerous or untrustworthy
- Having pig – getting lucky
- I understand only train station – it is all Greek to me
Part of the irony here is that the best way to define the idioms of other languages and countries is through another idiom!
English words and brand names can have different meanings in other languages
Electrolux at one time marketed its vacuum cleaners in English with the tagline: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Ford blundered when marketing the Pinto in Brazil because the term in Brazilian Portuguese means “tiny male genitals”. See more here.
Kind of a fun post, but the point is clear – just translating the English words from the name, keywords and screenshots is close to worthless.
Instead, treat each country as their own ecosystem of search and see how they search for features related to your app. Find your local audience using their words with app store intelligence software.